Ford is planning to transform the next-generation Focus RS into a petrol-electric rival to the Mercedes-AMG A45 and Audi RS3, according to new reports from Europe.
According to Autocar, the 2020 RS will make use of 48V mild-hybrid tech to meet ever-tightening emissions regulations.
The report suggests the current 257kW 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, which makes 275kW after a bit of factory-sanctioned fettling from Mountune, could benefit from an extra 20-25kW of power and 80-90Nm of torque from an integrated 48V starter/generator.
Similar systems are starting to pop up in Audi and Mercedes-AMG models. They help slice emissions by allowing the start/stop system to operate over a wider speed range, harvest energy generated under braking and deliver more punch off the line.
In the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 unveiled in Detroit, the 48V EQ Boost system can provide an extra 16kW and 250Nm in brief bursts. The system allows the car to 'glide' with the engine turned off under light loads, and also powers an electric compressor designed to provide boost while the mechanical turbo spools.
Above: The new Ford Focus, before you're supposed to see it
There's no word on whether the RS will run with an electric compressor.
Although Mercedes and Audi haven't revealed their next-generation hot-hatches – the new A-Class was unveiled in February, while the current RS3 is running around in post-facelift guise – the expectation is that Ford's hottest Focus will be able to tackle them.
Speaking of the Focus, we're still waiting for a look at the fifth-generation model. Having teased the car yesterday, Ford will give the hatch a full debut on April 10.
We've spied the car in camouflage, and seen it undisguised on a filming set, but there's still lots to learn. For one, there's no indication of what will power the car. Logic suggests we'll see a range of three- and four-cylinder EcoBoost engines, but how much power they'll make (and what transmissions will be offered) remains to be seen.
The interior also remains something of a mystery, although the latest Fiesta may give some indication as to the direction it'll take.